Temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders can be painful and impact your quality of life. Whether it’s sore facial muscles, popping and clicking noises, or painful chewing, TMJ is not normal and should always be addressed by your experienced oral care professional.
Since TMJ has multiple contributing factors, it’s important to work with a professional to determine what could be causing your discomfort. But is teeth grinding, also called bruxism, a cause of TMJ? Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between these two conditions.
Bruxism Can Cause TMJ Discomfort
Teeth grinding has the potential to cause TMJ symptoms. Research shows sustained teeth clenching is one of the most damaging action to these powerful jaw joints . Since bruxism includes both teeth clenching and grinding, it can influence the development of TMJ.
Intense pressure exerted on the temporomandibular joints—like that seen in bruxism—and the muscles that support them can cause inflammation and tension. This tension can lead to facial pain, headaches, trouble chewing, and other TMJ symptoms.
Bruxism can also lead to unusual wear on the teeth, which can contribute to bite changes over time that may cause an improper bite and lead to TMJ symptoms.
Existing TMJ Issues May Influence Bruxism
The correlation between existing TMJ symptoms and the development of bruxism continues to be investigated. The relationship between these two conditions is even more complex because the symptoms of bruxism and TMJ can overlap. For example, bruxism can cause a sore jaw and headaches, two symptoms of TMJ disorders .
However, what we do know is that there is an association between temporomandibular joint disorders and bruxism. If you have symptoms of either of these conditions, it’s important to seek the advice of a dentist experienced in treating both bruxism and TMJ to get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
What Can You Do?
Treatment for TMJ depends on what is causing your symptoms. Even if bruxism hasn’t directly led to your TMJ disorder, it may exacerbate muscle tension and discomfort associated with your jaw joints. It’s important to understand that bruxism and TMJ can coexist, potentially without a causal relationship .
Comprehensively addressing your symptoms with an experienced professional can help you have the best treatment results. For some, TMJ treatment means correcting a bad bite, avoiding tough foods, or participating in physical therapy to help improve the condition. For others, wearing a nightly mouthguard or undergoing additional treatment for bruxism may help improve their TMJ symptoms.
If you suffer from headaches, jaw pain, or other symptoms of TMJ or bruxism, you don’t have to live with the discomfort. Your dentist can help you reduce your symptoms so you can start feeling better as soon as possible!